Canadian Crush: Agosta, Wickenheiser score big in 13-1 win over Sweden in women’s hockey

By Greg Beacham, AP
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Canada cruises past Sweden 13-1 in women’s hockey

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — With Sweden down by a dozen goals, Katarina Timglas did what everybody in the frustrated women’s hockey field probably wants to do right now.

She punched Canada in the face.

Yet even Timglas’ glove glanced harmlessly off Meaghan Mikkelson’s shield, and the Canadian defenseman rolled her eyes and appeared to shrug.

After Canada’s 13-1 demolition of a solid Swedish team on Wednesday, it’s clear nobody but the Americans even has a chance against the home team.

“We know we can play better than that, and it’s embarrassing,” Timglas said. “I don’t know what happened to us. It was like we weren’t even out there when the game started. Canada was everywhere, and we didn’t do anything.”

With four dynamic scoring lines and several talented defensemen who rarely had to play defense, Canada won its three preliminary-round games by a combined 41-2.

Even Olympic-hero goalie Kim Martin and Sweden, the silver medalists in Turin and the fourth-ranked program in the world, were barely a rut in the ice on Canada’s path to the semifinals — although the Swedes blamed themselves as much as the Canadians for the latest stunningly lopsided result in women’s hockey.

“Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you aren’t, (but) it’s not just unlucky — they’re a good team,” Martin said.

Meghan Agosta had three goals and two assists in another remarkable offensive performance for the Canadians, while Hayley Wickenheiser became the leading goal-scorer in Olympic history as they toyed with the toughest opponent in their group.

“We’re in a really good place,” said Wickenheiser, who broke her tie with former teammate Danielle Goyette by scoring her 16th Olympic goal. “From where we were a year ago, we’re in a really good position where I think there’s good confidence. Every line can score, can provide depth for us, can provide energy. There’s good chemistry within the group overall, off the ice.”

Wickenheiser scored five points, and Cherie Piper had two goals and two assists. The two also hooked up on one of the tournament’s prettiest plays, with Wickenheiser making a 100-foot pass from behind her blue line onto Piper’s tape for a first-period breakaway goal.

The Canadians outshot the Swedes 52-13, including 43-4 in the first two periods. All told, they’ve outshot Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland 181-34.

“I think we have to give ourselves credit that we’ve worked hard to prepare to peak at this moment,” Piper said. “I can’t speak for everyone on our team, but I think we feel great. You see the way we’re playing. We’re moving the puck with ease. Our legs are moving. I just think it’s all positive things, and it’s where we wanted to be.”

Yet Canadian coach Melody Davidson again saw ambivalence in her players’ eyes when they went ahead by another gaping margin. The team has been criticized both in the Canadian media and in e-mails to Davidson for its one-sided results, which suggest everything from poor sportsmanship to a sport unfit for Olympic competition.

“They’re still conflicted, but we have a job to do,” Canadian coach Melody Davidson said. “We worked hard to make sure we were in this position. I do worry about (the perception of women’s hockey), but that’s not my job to worry about it. The Swedes have a real good team, but they didn’t have their ‘A’ game going.”

Timglas scored the Swedes’ only goal on a power play with 7:44 left, although her second-period punch probably was more satisfying. She drew a roughing penalty.

“It seems like they outscore every team, and they play the puck so well,” said Martin, who shut out Switzerland in Sweden’s opening game. “We just do what we can. They played so well, and I don’t think we were on our toes.”

Martin made 23 saves before getting pulled while down 10-0.

Sweden lost 8-1 to Canada in a preliminary-round game in Turin but won silver medals after Martin’s 37-save performance in the semifinals against the Americans.

“I think our team is much better than it was in Torino, but unfortunately, Canada hasn’t stopped developing,” Sweden coach Peter Elander said. “Canada is the powerhouse of women’s hockey, and they’ve worked hard to reach a new level.”

Canada actually needed nearly seven minutes to score its first goal: Agosta connected on a 2-on-1, tipping home a perfect pass from Piper for her sixth goal of the Olympics. The Canadians put up four more goals in the next nine minutes, and Wickenheiser scored her second goal of the tournament early in the second period, fluttering a shot past Martin’s glove.

Martin was pulled in favor of Sara Grahn after Agosta completed her hat trick before the midway point of the second period, getting her eighth goal of the Olympics on a deflected shot that put Canada up 10-0.

Kim St. Pierre made four saves over two periods in her second start for Canada before Charline Labonte finished up. Davidson said she still hasn’t decided whether St. Pierre or Shannon Szabados will play in the medal round.

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